The objective of the research was to discover the ontology of cultural evolution in general and cultural change as a specific aspect.
The essential concept of the culture of a society can by defined as the integration of its cohesion, that defines its purpose, and is put into action by its habits while the entropy is preserved by its myths.
This defines different types of cultures based on the characteristics of the environment they live in.
Cultural change is promoted by the change of habits. The change of habits threatens cultural cohesion and is therefore inhibited by the dominating myths of a society. If habits change myths change. If myths prevail, no changes occur.
Considering the functional concept of culture, habits are the ultimate goal of a culturalization process.
From a functional point of view, cultures are defined by the ethics and customs that sustain and put into action the habits that underlay.
Habits are useful automatic behaviors that are put into action by the automatisms that are socially accepted to produce the necessary actions that confirm the usefulness of the habits.
The change of habits is promoted by the change of ethics in a culture. Ethics change when they lose their functionality. Cultures evolve based on the evolution of their ethic.
Ethics evolves when it is driven by scarcity. Scarcity promotes evolution. Abundance and poverty provoke involution.
Consumerism is an artificial way to create scarcity. It makes the evolution of wealthy societies possible. Abundance would provoke involution if it were not sustained by consumerism. This has its prices, as all artificial evolution drivers or catalysts.
The purpose of ethics is to sustain the functionality of individuals, groups, or cultures. It is driven by the dominant morality and sustained by its functional ideologies.
To understand evolution it must be considered that ideologies sustain ethics. There are ideologies implicit in ethics. While ideologies are able to sustain the functionality of a particular ethical approach, no change happens.
Therefore it is necessary to influence ideologies to change the dominant ethic of an environment.
Ideologies are beliefs that are put into action by specific technologies and sustained by the interests of the individual, group or society.
Ideologies change naturally when technologies evolve. That is why individualistic and conservative cultures avoid technological changes. They are threatened by them. Hindering technological changes sustain the functionality of their ideology.
Operationally cultural change begins when the change of its ethics produces a change in the customs of a society.
That implies, in the case of evolution, a higher level of conscious behavior. Culture changes when these new conscious behaviors prove to be functional to produce the necessary actions to provide added value and obtain the counterpart. Then they will be socially accepted and habits begin to change.
Corruption is the natural “tool” to avoid cultural changes. Corruption is defined as a simple way to gain consensus disregarding the rules of cooperation and competitiveness that are basic in cultural cohesion. Corruption, while hindering cultural changes, provokes involution.
Cultural change in societies is catalyzed by the change in its ethics.
Change in ethics implies the existence of new functional needs that provoke the change of the dominant morality. Evolution is promoted if this change is sustained by a new technology that is able to modify the ideological myths of the existing ethic
Therefore the first step to promote a cultural change is the dissemination of a new ethic. To do so it is necessary to have the technology to adapt to the changes of the environment. Only a change in the environment makes a cultural change necessary and possible.
On one hand, there are structural changes produced by natural changes of the environment or of competing environments.
On the other hand, there are changes produced by the double dialectics of evolution between expansion and contraction and security and freedom.
Cultural change implies centrally the change of customs. Evolution implies a higher level of conscious actions. Lowering the level of consciousness fosters involution. The drivers of change are the necessary automated useful behaviors.
The catalyst of change is the ideology implicit in the new ethic. The ideology inhibits cultural change if it is not accepted as a superior myth.
Although this research was developed to predict and influence cultural changes of cultures, it is applicable to institutional changes.
Cultures use heroes to evolve
A hero is an individual that drives a society to go a step further. In the case of the evolution of archetypes, there is no possibility to evolve without the existence of heroes. These individuals are members of society that are willing to assume the responsibility of taking the next step.
They are members of the elite and might work at an individual level or at an institutional level.
Their goal is transcendence and they have necessarily a human side and a supernatural side. The active function is human; therefore they are permanently in danger of succumbing to the deeds they are doing.
Their energy conservation function is “supernatural” which in this case means that they have an extremely superior energy and power to develop the tasks they are doing.
Cultures need heroes to make cultural breakthroughs. The evolution of a cultural archetype is necessarily a breakthrough that requires heroes.
Their achievements are celebrated by society and the heroes are honored because people generate identification with their deeds and their capacities.
Heroes as Change Agents
People project on heroes the values they need. This projection is what makes them change agents because they are able to influence the environment that recognizes them as heroes.
After the change has been achieved, heroes are no longer necessary. In this case, there are two alternatives:
- Heroes return to their former role and the heroic action is part of their history.
- Heroes try to profit from their actions intending to occupy a leading role in society based on their deeds.
In the first case, heroic actions end as part of the history and the heroes and a monument is built after their death. George Washington is an example of this case.
In the second case, heroes enter into a conflict with the establishment of the society and are usually eliminated because they threaten the power. Che Guevara is an example of this second case.
Heroes are individuals who upgrade the transcendence of society, culture, or group and develop their exploits based on their “overwhelming” human aspects that make them natural loners.
The loneliness and resistance of heroes are what allow them to develop their deeds. In the hero’s path, there are many obstacles to overcome. Their personal pain resistance is what makes them able to pursue their goals.
Whatever the activity there are four types of heroes:
- The fighter
- The mythical
- The invincible
- The avant-garde
Although every hero has a dominant typology, they need to include all aspects to achieve their deeds.
A hero needs to have the capacity to integrate all these aspects to develop a successful strategy.
Taxonomy of a heroic action
- Defining the transcendent goal that has to be achieved
- Defining the idea of the concept to be achieved
- Producing the necessary achievements
- Accepting the loneliness of the role
- Assuming the responsibility of introducing the transcendent goal
- Accepting the need of an endless and timeless effort to ensure the results
- Overcoming the obstacles that appear
- Being able to resist the pain produced by overcoming the obstacles
- Ensuring the results beyond the personal needs of the hero
The catalyst of heroes is their “loneliness resistance” that forces them to be based on their own energy without counting on the energy of the environment. They might have helpers, but they rely on the energy of the hero.
The entropy inhibitor that ensures the possibility of achieving the minimum strategy of the hero is their pain resistance which allows them to succeed or die in the attempt without resigning their goal.
Heroes are in some way messianic. This is part of their supernatural role. That is why regarding the evolution of cultures, some people make a shortcut thinking that a “dictator” is needed to implement an upgrade in their evolution. History demonstrated several times that this is not the case.
In evolving cultures, the existence of institutions that have transcendent goals that are coincident with the transcendent goals to be achieved allows the development of democratic changes.
These institutions are what we call virtual heroes.
Therefore there are two different ways to upgrade a culture:
- An individual hero with a “messianic” role. The risk is that the hero becomes a dictator and society involves instead of evolving.
- An institutionalized evolution that requires strong ethical consensus on the transcendent goals to be achieved.
The Unicist Research Institute